We’re off the ground and finally putting some flight hours behind us. I haven’t been able to estimate how many hours of flight time it will take to get to Taipei for our layover, but according to the itinerary in local times the arrival will be a day and a half from our departure. Just figuring out the flight time getting to Los Angeles is beyond us at this point. We all had too much anticipation to get any sleep. Richard gave us some timely international traveling advice to keep our sanity in check. It turns out other places in the world are different from Spanish Fork, Utah. His view, after years and years of traveling across all spans of the globe, is that “it’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different.” He assures us we’ll see a few things we’re not ready for and there will be circumstances we can’t really control. The idea is to roll with it and to if you get sensory overload, close your eyes and zone out for a minute. The foremost focus of caution will be on the water though. Even when you get in the shower, keep it out of your mouth and your eyes. Use bottled water for brushing your teeth and rinsing things off. Stay away from the fruits and the salads that have been rinsed in tap water, because you’ll get a cataclysmic gastrointenstinal eruption. Another thing is to keep your fingers out of your eyes and mouth. I guess that means I have to cut back on my habit of licking doorknobs too.(more…)
Now that we’ve straightened out our group’s little logistical nightmare we’re all dashing about frantically to pack and prepare for departure (well, at least I am). A lot of the things we’re packing are meant for a little humanitarian aid. Unfortunately it’s not 80-pound sacks of rice or palletized medical supplies. Actually, all we could fit in our duffle bags was candy bars and a bottle of aspirin. I know it sounds pretty chinsey, but we called ahead and asked what people there really wanted. Gaye, a registered nurse, has coordinated for a visit to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. On her visit four years ago she was appalled to find the very poor conditions of their medical facilities. She says it was horrible compared to Western standards, and she wanted to help them out in some way. In preparation for this trip she has emailed ahead and asked what she can bring along to make a difference for them. It turns out they only have a few mercury thermometers to use amongst all the patients (with no good way to sterilize, so they apply it in the underarms). They also said they just needed some aspirin, so we’re bringing the biggest bottle we can find. We really want to help more, and when we go there for a tour, we will get a better idea of what we could do for them.(more…)
Great news! My passport has finally lurched into my hands after a dubious send-off from the Passport Agency in South Caronlina. We had the entire postal service in our area on high alert to watch for it in the early morning sort. To great relief we got a call from them early to let us know the package had arrived. Some would say I should be joyful, but I’m really just spitefully simmering because it has caused a tremendous PITA. You wouldn’t believe the lengths I was poised to go in order to get myself a passport and to catch up with the flight to Bangkok. Since the Los Angeles office was booked solid for the next week, that really gave us trouble. LA is along the route, and I could have stayed there until monday to get my passport there. We are sure that if we could contact a congressman they would have gotten me an early Monday appointment. Circumventing the automated telephone appointment system proved to be intractable. We called on all possible contacts, and had to settle for an appointment at the new center in Aurora, Colorado.(more…)
Here’s putting a lot of confidence in the US Postal Service. I am not in Los Angeles this morning, though I feel I should have gotten myself there in time for my appointment with the Passport Agency. Even though it turns out my birth certificate is a little schizophrenic, I could at least have had the satisfaction of being turned away in person by a callous bureaucrat after great travel and expense. Instead I’m just waiting by to see if my passport happens to show up in my mailbox or not. Of course I was bugging the Passport Customer Rejection Center for a long time to track the progress of their scotch tape dispenser. Here’s the irony. They admitted they had been dragging their feet so they waived the fee on an expedite order and quickly completed their official crayon doodles. Then they sent it out regular “Priority” mail rather than Express. I’m looking this gift racehorse in the mouth and I say it’s a beat up old burro.